Between The Lines

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” – Erma Bombeck

I’ll admit, I have a child-like sense of humour that I am not necessarily proud of. What makes me laugh is certainly not what would make others laugh. At times I have gotten caught up in the moment if something goes against what I perceive as the norm. Most often, my laughter is harmless and in good humour. Sometimes though, my laughter is replaced with reality and I realize my humour was in bad taste.

Last week, someone’s odd behaviour had caught my eye. I had noticed a younger man standing in front of his car, then get back into his car. He pulled forward, then he reversed, parked again and then got out to review his parking job. This happened repeatedly for what seemed like 15 minutes. I found this odd behaviour rather humorous. He was doing the same sequence of events only to have the car nowhere between the lines of his parking space. In the end, though, you could tell he became very frustrated. When he finally ended his pursuit of parking perfection, he got out of his car, walked around multiple times trying all the door handles (to ensure they were locked). It was only then did I realize that this man was suffering from some kind of obsessive disorder. My laughter stopped. I felt really bad.

Who am I to laugh at this man? I know all too well how much mental health issues can frustratingly get in the way of a functional life. This man was clearly suffering and I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to leave that car parked incorrectly. I have experienced how my own perfectionism can leave me anxious and exhausted. I am certain he was anxious leaving that car where it was. Here I was laughing at his expense.

I am human, I make many mistakes and this was one of them. My sense of humor has matured a little after this life lesson. One of the good things that had come out of this is that I was able to have a good, constructive conversation about mental health with a co-worker when we witnessed this young man once again trying to park his car the next morning. While I am certainly not proud of what I had done, I was happy that there was a learning experience to be had and an open conversation about obsessive behavior. I just need to keep my child-like humor…. between the lines.

Updated resolution numbers:

285 of 1000 KMs walked

17 of 50 blog entries posted

9 of 10 books read